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To celebrate our first anniversary WOLA’s media team organized a Twitter Q&A yesterday which was a great success. The complete stream (with a couple of edits) follows.

David Smilde: @DSmilde

(1) I’d like to welcome everybody who is online for the Twitter Q&A. Over the next hour I look forward to answer your questions on VZ

(2) Topics I think would be interesting to discuss are the electoral conflict, oppo strategy, shortages, audio tapes, Snowden, forpol

(3) My collaborator Hugo Pérez is lurking on line as well to help out when needed.

Q1: Can state-sponsored participatory democracy be exclusionary as it is inclusive? By Omar @Adverse101


(1)Great question, a classic in political theory. Participatory processes that go beyond universal voting are highly

(2) suscpt. to active minorities. There are people that do not have the time, freedom or human capital to participate

(3) and they are frequently left out and unattended to. As well, participatory dem rarely becomes widespread w/o state

(4) sponsorship. But when states sponsor they usually expect participants to support them. That is what is happng in VZ.


Q2: What is your opinion of the Carter Center report? And do you see anything happening with Capriles’ demands? By Jose de Bastos @JDeBastos


(1)Thanks Jose! Just received the CC report today. Their work is always solid. Gives good sum of Capriles’s court cases.

(2)Most valuable part of the rprt are the 9 recommendations. They squarely hit all of the main issues

(3)Given the composition of the court I doubt anything will happen with Capriles demands.


Q3: If Snowden flees to Venezuela, is it likely that Maduro will extend asylum? How would that impact VZ relations w/ US?  By Emma Golderg @emmabgo


(1) The Snowden case presents a real challenge for Maduro. One the one hand he is seeking rapprochement with the US

(2) On other hand, the core of his ideology is anti-imperialism in which the idea of the US spying on the world fits.

(3) On Jun23 when news emerged that Snowden was headed to Venezuela, Venezuelan govt. was curiously silent

(4) after it looked like he would head elsewhere Maduro started to make very strong statements on the matter

(5) That said, I think Maduro’s leftist credentials are more important to him than rapprochement with the US

(6) If he finds himself in a place where he has to choose. He will likely give Snowden asylum and face the consq w US

(7) This is also more likely because as time goes on the US looks worse and worse in this case which will limit US rsps.

Q4: How are diplo relations w/Colombia different under Maduro? @WOLA Colombia @wolacolombia


(1) Maduro is weaker internally and internationally than HCF which has boldened Colombia vis-a-vs VZ

(2) Also relevant that Santos is facing reelection next year and warm rels. with VZ hurts him with the right of coal.

(3) Maduro’s seeking rapprochement w US was a way of containing both Capriles and Santos:

Q5: I read that VZ has had shortages of basic goods like TP… What caused them & what is being done to fix the problem? By Beth Stone @bethrstone


(1) see our recent post on this Main points are the following

(2) shortages do not mean hunger but rather that not everybody can get everything they want when they want it.

(3) But shortages of particular goods can be focused in certain places and become very serious-, eg. Milk

(4) shortages are caused by increasing reliance on imports in the face of a finite supply of foreign currency.

(5) reliance on imports comes from overvalued currency, price controls, and expropriations.

(6) govt. is working to change forex regime, increase production, improve distrib. Meantime needs to import like mad.

Q6: How involved in drug trafficking is the Venezuelan military and is there anything to talk of a “Cartel de los Soles? By Pan-American Post @PanAmericanPost


(1)Insight Crime has done a good analysis of this

(2) definitely some military involved in drug trafficking, but “cartel” is probably not right metaphor.

(3)Javier Mayorca suggests that military involvement is looser and more dispersed and decentralized than that.

Q7: Do you think gov will ease forex controls, in order to help local businesses to be more efficient/end shortages? By Mauel Rueda @Ruedareport


(1)That is the direction they are moving. Word is there will be another SICAD auction any day…

(2)..and reestablish legal $ parallel market in a couple of months. Delays because of internal disagreements.

Q8: What has been the popular reaction to the Machado tape and how will it influence the upcoming municipal elections? By Arturo Schultz @ArtuSchu


(1) remarkably muted. It of course gets little play in the private media and the state media is always awash in salacious.

(2) …attacks on the opposition. So it sort of fades into the background. Probably wont have a big impact by Dec.

Q9: What is the discussion like concerning global warming in Venezuela, and specifically the limits to fossil-fuel driven growth? By BrianPS @Ambush_bear


(1)Remarkably little discussion. These issues look very different from dev countries where basic needs go unmet.

(2) and Venezuela is obviously in a difficult spot since fossil fuels are its life blood.

(3)but contrad. has always been there. HCF criticized capitalism while benefiting from its consumption of fosfuel.

Q10: Some believe that CCS could see protests like in Brazil given high levels of scarcity&other problems. Your thoughts? By Carolina Jimenez @cjimenezDC


(1)I think the conditions are quite different in the sense that VZ has been in cycle of protest for 10-11 years.

(2)Brazil has been in a period of steady growth over this same period but has gotten to the point that…

(3) people are impatient and want improvements now. Those types of protests happen in periods of rising but…

(4)frustrated expectations. If, in VZ, the economy seriously declined and Maduro adopted neolib. measures, cld happn

Q11: What will a future without Hugo Chavez hold for ALBA? By Andrea @Andrea_amy


(1) NM was HCFs foreign minister for 6 years so HCF’s legacy is also NM’s legacy and he is committed to it.

(2) That said, ALBA was their first initiative at a new multi-lateralism. Success was limited by lack of big countrs

(3) in recent years HCF paid much more attention to UNASUR and CELAC and ALBA took something of a back seat.

(4) NM will not simply abandon support for ALBA, it still has a purpose as a core reference group for Venezuela.

(5) But given current economic difficulties he will definitely not expand support, and may reduce in subtle ways.

(6) like change the terms of loans, reduce or postpone economic cooperation.

Q12: What are the main strengths & weaknesses of Maduro and Capriles? By Carolina Acosta-A @caa2410


(1)Maduro’s main attribute is that he was designated by Chávez and is a plausible sucesor since was For.Min. for 6 yrs

(2) Main difference from HCF is that Maduro comes from a labor background rather than a military background.

(3) this makes him more pragmatic and more comfortable in negotiations. However, center of his ideology is anti-imperialism

4) Tension between these two aspects of his profile can be seen in recent engagement of the US and the Snowden case.

(5) On the one hand he wants rapprochement with the US since that will help him head off Capriles international strategy

(6) and will help VZ confront economic problems. This explains silence on first day when Snowden appeared headed to VZ.

(7) but once it became clear he would probably head elsewhere, strong statements re importance of giving asylum to Snowden

(8) weakness is that he does not have HCF’s political charisma & sense & is at helm of state created by someone who did

(1) HCR is smart and capable and has courage. Unlike many opposition leaders has not fled when pursued by law.

(2) Assuming candidacy in April faced with what looked like sure defeat was also a courageous move.

(3) He is also of a different generation and is more forward looking than most opposition leaders.

(4) He also suffers from a lack of charisma and has never been able to put together set of msgs that speak to ave. Vzns

(5) This limits his appeal among that large swath in the middle that is not strongly ideological. They vote for who they

(6) thnk will improve thr lives and need to hear candidates make sense of their problems and propose concrete solutions.

7) This is what HCF did in 1998. Look at some videos frm 98 and you’ll be amazed at how concretely he spoke on issues



(1) Okay we’ve gone overtime and I need to run. Thanks to everyone who participated for some great questions.

(2) Sorry to those I didn’t get to. Check out the blog: Follow it by Tumblr Twitter @dsmilde RSS or email